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ASCB Newsletter - March 2003

New Member Annual Meeting Speaking Forum

Due to the overwhelming popularity of member-organized Special Interest Subgroups at the ASCB Annual Meeting last year, the Program Committee will offer an additional opportunity for member-organized scientific sessions, on Wednesday, December 17, the last morning of the meeting. In previous years, a second major morning symposium was presented at that time.

Saturday afternoon will continue to be dedicated to Special Interest Subgroups. Criteria for the new Wednesday sessions will be announced in the ASCB Annual Meeting Call for Abstracts to be published next month, and will be posted on the ASCB website.

Participants in any Annual Meeting event must be registered, and proposed session organizers must be ASCB members or member-applicants. The Society will provide space and basic A-V at no cost to organizers. Applications are due July 31.


Minisymposium Topics & Co-Chairs

Minisymposia will be scheduled eight each afternoon, Sunday through Wednesday of the Annual Meeting. Four additional speakers for each minisymposium will be selected by the co-chairs from among abstract submissions. The schedule will be announced in September.

John Abrams, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Junying Yuan, Harvard Medical School Cell Biology of Infectious Diseases
Karen Guillemin, University of Oregon Craig Roy, Yale University

Cell Cycle Regulation
James Ferrell, Stanford University
Clare McGowan, The Scripps Research Institute

Cell Motility
Richard Firtel, University of California, San Diego
Alan Hall, University College, London, UK

Cell Polarity
Jeff Axelrod, Stanford University
Ben Margolis, University of Michigan

Cell-Cell Communication
Douglas DeSimone, University of Virginia
Albert Reynolds, Vanderbilt University

Chromosome Dynamics
Sue Biggins, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Abby Dernburg, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Control of Cell Shape/Size
Judith Kimble, University of Wisconsin
David Sabatini, MIT/The Whitehead Institute

Christine Field, Harvard Medical School
James Spudich, Stanford University

Cytoskeletal Dynamics Karen Oegema, University of California, San Diego
David Pellman, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dendritic Cells
Ira Mellman, Yale University School of Medicine
Ulrich von Andrian, Harvard Medical School

Crislyn D’Souza-Schorey, University of Notre Dame
Sandra Schmid, The Scripps Research Institute

ECM and Cancer
Renato Iozzo, Thomas Jefferson University
Valerie Weaver, University of Pennsylvania

ECM Molecules and Their Receptors
Arthur Lander, University of California, Irvine
Linda Sandell, Washington University

Integrin Signaling
Carol Otey, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Thomas Parsons, University of Virginia

Lipids in Membrane Dynamics
Vytas Bankaitis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Gerrit Van Meer, Center for Biomembranes & Lipid Enzymology, The Netherlands

Lipids in Signaling
Jack Dixon, University of California, San Diego
Sergio Grinstein, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Membrane Cytoskeleton Interactions
Miriam Goodman, Stanford University
Min Han, University of Colorado

Mitotic Spindle Assembly and Function
Georjana Barnes, University of California, Berkeley
Erich Nigg, Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany

Molecular Motors
Michael Ostap, University of Pennsylvania
Jonathan Scholey, University of California, Davis

Nucleocytoplasmic Transport
Michael Matunis, The Johns Hopkins University
Lucy Pemberton, University of Virginia

Neuronal Pathfinding and Disease
Mary Hatten, The Rockefeller University
David Van Vactor, Harvard Medical School

Organelle Maintenance and Inheritance
Adam Linstedt, Carnegie Mellon University
Michael Yaffe, University of California, San Diego

Organization of the Nucleoplasm
Joan Politz, University of Massachusetts
Robert Singer, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Mark Krasnow, Stanford University
Susan Mango, University of Utah

QualityControl and Protein Degradation
Chris Kaiser, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hidde Ploegh, Harvard University

Signaling and Cell Proliferation
Shoukat Dedhar, Jack Bell Research Center, British Columbia
Jessica Treisman, New York University

Signaling and Development
Philip Beachy, The Johns Hopkins University
Mariann Bienz, Medical Research Council, UK

Stem Cells
Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, University of California, San Francisco
Margaret Fuller, Stanford University

Vesicle Trafficking
Charles Barlowe, Dartmouth College
Gregory Payne, University of California, Los Angeles


Letters To The Editor

Scientific Publishing

To the Editor:

I am pleased that the ASCB is once again taking a lead in openly addressing issues critical to the scientific profession in general and to cell biologists specifically. The articles by Gary Ward and Suzanne Pfeffer [February, 2003] make a strong case for open access to the scientific literature. Importantly, both authors acknowledge the critical role that publishers play in overseeing the review of manuscripts, editing our (sometimes cumbersome) articles, and producing high quality journals.

The effective communication of our work requires a partnership between scientists and publishers. In the section of Gary Ward’s article entitled, “Where do we go from here?” he suggested some action points for authors, editors, funding agencies and professional societies. Five years ago, well before the Varmus/Brown petition was launched, Frances Brodsky, Mark Marsh, the late Thomas Kreis and I took a different, and perhaps more proactive approach to this issue. At that time we, and many of our colleagues, were unhappy with the state of scientific publication. Particularly troublesome was our belief that publishers were more concerned about profits, attracting lucrative advertising, and impact factors, than objectively judging the scientific quality and value of the work submitted to them. We felt that working scientists should take control of publishing their own work, and we decided to launch a new journal, Traffic, whose mission was to serve scientists working on any aspect of intracellular transport.

An endeavor required the formation of an active partnership with Munksgaard/ Blackwell, publishers that shared our goals of producing a high-quality journal that would be made readily and inexpensively accessible to the research community. As ASCB members can see first hand from the publicly accessible financial history of Molecular Biology of the Cell, launching and publishing a journal is not cheap. Nonetheless, Blackwell agreed not to levy page charges for the first two years, to make all papers published in the first year of Traffic freely available, and to provide institutional subscriptions of Traffic to over 1400 libraries at no additional charge, as part of existing consortia agreements. More recently, in response to the ASCB Council’s decision not to support journals that won’t provide free access to their content within six months, Blackwell has taken a bold step to do just this for Traffic. Blackwell, however, is not a charity. As Gary Ward correctly stated, our society needs to support publishers that are willing to work together with scientists to serve the scientific community. At the risk of blatant advertising, we must do this not only by submitting our papers to these journals, but also by taking out personal subscriptions and encouraging our libraries to do the same. Otherwise the publishers’ fallacious argument—that open access and profitability are mutually exclusive—will be validated.

Sandra L. Schmid, Co-founding Editor, Traffic
Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute

To the Editor:

I was excited to read the articles by ASCB officer Gary Ward and ASCB President Suzanne Pfeffer on the issue of free access to the scientific literature [February, 2003]. These articles echo some of my own views about the open access movement and suggest some rather bold steps to be taken by authors, academic editors, funding agencies, and societies in driving changes in scientific publishing that will clearly benefit scientists, physicians, educators, and the public around the world.

I first started thinking about open access in 1999 when ASCB member Harold Varmus, then Director of the NIH, circulated a document about e-Biomed, a proposed public repository for the world’s scientific literature. But the issue really only became prominent in my mind when the Public Library of Science (PLoS) circulated its petition challenging the world’s extant publishers “to grant unrestricted free distribution rights to any and all original research reports that they have published, through PubMed Central and similar online public resources, within six months of their initial publication date.” By that time, I was editor of the journals Cell and Molecular Cell, and I reacted to the petition both as a scientist and as an editor. The PLoS petition made two separate requests, one to make literature freely available after six months, and the other to deposit it in a public repository. With respect to the first request, this seemed to me an enormously positive step that posed virtually no business risk, at least for the journals at Cell Press. The Press was in favor of making its content available for free within six months, but it was not successful in persuading its parent company (Elsevier) to allow it to do so. For me, that was a defining moment, as up until that time I felt I could think of myself as a scientist working for the scientific community within a publishing environment. By not being able to take a step that was clearly in the interests of the scientific community and that had little financial risk, it seemed to me that a line had been drawn and that I would have to consciously transfer my allegiance from the scientific community to the publishing community to continue to work in my current position. At that point my fate was sealed, and in January 2003, I joined PLoS as its Executive Director.

A temporary barrier to electronic access enables publishers to maintain their current subscription models. I must ask, however, whether even a temporary barrier is appropriate. As Gary Ward argued, “The vast majority of academic biological research in this country is publicly funded. It is remarkable that we allow commercial interests…to restrict access to the results of taxpayer-funded research to those that can afford to pay.” I could not agree more. By creating even a brief barrier to access, one reinforces the division of the world into the “haves” and the “have-nots”. In the interests of weakening such divisions, it seems worth considering a change in the business model that appends the cost of publishing research to the cost of doing the research, through modest charges to the authors that can and should be covered by funding agencies.

With respect to granting unrestricted distribution rights through a public repository, it took me some time to understand the enormous potential benefit of such a move. Such a repository creates an electronic database of the literature, which can be mined by sophisticated tools currently being developed by informaticians and which will facilitate scientific progress in much the same way that databases of nucleic acids and other scientific data do today. As with any database, the full potential of open access is only realized when most or all of the literature is available. It is therefore critical to convince as many publishers as possible to deposit their papers into a public database in a format compatible with these tools.

I have voted with my feet by resigning my position at Cell to join PLoS. I encourage the scientific community to follow Gary Ward’s suggestion to demonstrate similarly their support of free and open access in their roles as authors and editors. Submission to a journal with progressive access policies should be seen as a positive act by hiring and tenure committees, and the quality of those papers should be judged on their own merits, rather than relying on the reputation that comes with an established journal. If entire editorial boards follow Gary Ward’s bold suggestion to resign en masse to join the editorial board of a more progressive journal, this might even convince the commercial publishers that they need to change their policies if they are to maintain their reputations and their livelihood.

I applaud the steps that the ASCB has taken to advance science through its innovative and progressive publishing practices; they make me proud to be a member. I look forward to the day when Molecular Biology of the Cell takes the final step and becomes a fully open access journal.

Vivian Siegel
Executive Director, Public Library of Science


Members In The News

Wolfgang Baumeister of the Max-Planck Institute, an ASCB member since 1997, will receive the 2003 Louis-Jeantet Prize for medicine for distinguished biomedical research in Europe.

Mary J.C. Hendrix of The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, an ASCB member since 1978, is President of the Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Neurobiology Chairpersons (AACBNCs).


Grants & Opportunities

2003 Cooperative Grants Program. The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), invites teams of U.S. and former Soviet Union (FSU) scientists and engineers to apply for oneto twoyear grants. One application may be submitted every twelve months.

NIGMS Administrative Supplements. Human Embryonic stem cell research funding opportunities. Deadline is May 5.



Post-doc Fellows, Harvard Medical School. Job Description: Two NIH funded positions in the Departments of Cell Biology and Neurobiology at the Harvard Medical School. Projects are focused on understanding the biological functions of gap junctional intercellular communication in the growth and homeostasis of the ocular lens1 in the biogenesis and maintenance of myelin2 and in vascular biology3. Approaches include the development and analysis of mouse cell lines with targeted deletions of members of the connexin family of gap junctional structural proteins, with concomitant analysis of the knockout mice. Applicants should have a Ph.D. with a strong background in cellular and molecular biology. Send CV and reference contact information (phone and email) to: Daniel A. Goodenough, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

  1. White, T.W. Unique and redundant connexin contributions to lens development. Science 295, 319320 (2002).
  2. Altevogt, B.M., Kleopa,K.A., Postma,F.R., Scherer,S.S. & Paul,D.L. Connexin29 is uniquely distributed within myelinating glial cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems. J. Neurosci. 22, 64586470 (2002).
  3. Simon, A.M. & McWhorter,A.R. Vascular Abnormalities in Mice Lacking the Endothelial Gap Junction Proteins connexin37 and connexin40. Dev. Biol. 251, (206) 220 (2002).

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Biology Department. University of Massachusetts/Amherst. A full time, temporary, non-benefited Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available to study the control of pollen tube growth. Particular attention will be given to the role of the actin cytoskeleton and to different ions (e.g., calcium, protons). Minimum qualifications: Ph.D. in cell biology; 1 year experience in fluorescence light microscopy; and an ability to operate computer-based imaging systems. Starting salary is commensurate with experience. Please send resume and three letters of recommendation to: Search R16365, c/o Ms. Lisa Barry, Biology Department, Morrill Science Center, UMass, Amherst, MA 01003-5810. Review of applications will begin March 1, 2003 and continue until position is filled. The University of Massachusetts is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and members of minority groups are encouraged to apply.

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